- This movie shows just HOW fucked-up it is to die by chestburster when you KNOW its coming. You are essentially forced to mourn and grieve for your own death as you wait in numbing terror for the inevitable agony of exploding in a humiliating mess of blood and bone like poor Mary, the woman the marines found, did. Painful as Kanes demise was in the first film was, he did NOT have to accept or mourn for his own death; compared to the colonists Kane had it easy.
- The film's entire premise can be considered this. Remember how the first movie really tried hard to drive home the point that a Xenomorph was the deadliest organism ever encountered by mankind? That was only one Xenomorph. And now we have DOZENS of them, lurking all over the place, having wiped out an entire colony settlement, and while the fact that the protagonists are heavily-armed space marines mean that a single Xenomorph poses less threat than in the first film, the problem is, there isn't just a single xenomorph to be dealt with. There's an entire hive of them, and the terrifying creatures of the first film are merely the children of a bigger, nastier Alien Queen.
- The Alien Queen herself. Thought that the first Alien was bad? And the hordes of aliens in this film worse? Those are just her little ones, and the big mother herself is larger than a T. rex and many times more mean.
- Continuing the design of the original Alien's sexual-horror themes, the Queen has several feminine attributes, given a Body Horror twist: namely, her heels have pointed growths resembling stilletos, her body's exoskeleton somewhat resembles a corset, and most notably, that she has a smaller pair of clawed arms where breasts should be on a human woman.
- The Alien Queen's ovipositor is a truly disgusting sight, a massive, slimy, pulsating appendage constantly churning out eggs in puddles of goo.
- The Queen's introduction garbles up her appearance quite a bit: she appears onscreen ovipositor-first, supported by struts hanging from the ceiling, her limbs coiled up and her head retracted into her armored crown. At first, you're not even sure just what you're even looking at.
- The Queen herself is imposing enough perched on her "throne", but once she rips off her ovipositor and gives chase, you know things have gone to shit. She isn't a helpless baby-making machine, as one would expect of a hive queen, she's deadlier than all her offspring put together, and smarter to boot.
- The hospital chestburster dream sequence, thanks to it almost coming out of nowhere and playing off of Ripley's own fear.
- When the Marines are in the hive and find the female colonist who "gives birth" as the Colonial Marines and Ripley look on in horror. Then the motion trackers go crazy, but we can't see anything, Gorman's freaking out, then an alien comes out of the goddamn wall and grabs Dietrich, whose flamethrower sends Frost to his death and lights his ammo bag on fire, leading to a domino effect where all but three marines are killed or abducted before they barely escape with their lives thanks to Ripley.
Newt: They mostly come at night. Mostly.
- After barely escaping, the marines call in their dropship to get out and destroy the complex. Surely enough, a Xenomorph sneaks onboard and surprises the pilot, causing it to crash and strand the crew planet side at night with this wonderful gem.
- There's something more subtle about that scene that makes it horrific, too. The entire first hour or so of the movie is spent building up the Colonial Marine Corps as being, as Hudson so eloquently describes it, "the ultimate badasses." They do such a good job with handling the fake outs that you really start to believe it too. Then they actually encounter the Xenomorphs and lose nearly their entire squad and the Sergeant to boot within minutes. The CMC were lethal by way of extensive training; the Xenomorphs were lethal by their very nature. The rest comes from the idea that their only allies are a traumatized civilian and child, a pacifist android, their naïve and unconscious commander and a total Slimeball who no doubt set them up to fail and is likely to stab them in the back later, all while they're up against dozens of the same creatures with no back-up or call for help and have little time before the reactor goes critical. The surviving marines are shell-shocked Hudson, jumpy Vasquez and Hicks, who completely realizes the gravity of the situation. Simply put, they are FUCKED.
- It's Newt's quiet, understated response that really seals the deal on the dawning horror of their situation. As she suspected would happen, she's just witnessed the super-soldiers get utterly trounced and barely bats an eyelid at the crashing drop-ship and exploding tank - all the histrionics are reserved for the adults. This implies that Newt's seen the same scenario play out already, only with her family and friends being the ones doing the dying, and helpfully offers the only thing that she knows works and what she's been reduced to for months: don't try to fight, run away and hide.
- Later in the film, Ripley and Newt get some rest while the others work to get an escape plan ready. They wake up to find two facehuggers released by Burke, who has disabled the video feed so the marines can't save them. Thank goodness Ripley had her cigarette lighter to activate the fire alarm and the marines' renewed resolve.
- Going with what is implied that happened with Lambert in the first movie, it appears the Xenomorphs could get disturbingly sadistic with their prey if they didn't have the outright need to kill or feed. And the Xenomorphs in Aliens had weeks to play with the colonists.
- There was a Commodore 64 game that recreated many of the film's most pivotal moments. Did you ever want to desperately hold off a horde of Xenos only to watch helplessly as a gang of them sneak around the back and abduct your teammates, or evade them through a long and winding maze where the slightest misstep leads to certain death? No? Too bad.
- Everything about the facility on LV-426. A labyrinth of empty, echoing, dimly lit corridors and stairwells and catwalks, full of the bits and pieces of the doomed, terrified colonists' lives. The fact that everything still works—the power is on, the water runs, etc.—only makes it creepier.
- The deaths of Dietrich (dragged UP into God knows what shadowy ceiling-hell) and Wierzbowski (unseen, but we hear his horrible dying sounds from just beyond that doorway over there).
Nightmare Fuel / Aliens